The key topics of the department „Knowlege – Culture - Transformation“

The members of the department „Knowledge – Culture – Transformation“ structure their work into different research focuses.

Accordingly, research will be implemented under the key word „Knowledge and Mediality“ on how the provision of knowlege in (old and new) media changes the understanding of what is worth knowing and how, on the other side, the claim for knowledge impacts on the media and their development.
Under the headline “Knowledge and Power” can be investigated how knowledge is determined by power structures, in politics and public media, but also in religions. The cultural imprint and conditionality of knowledge are discussed as much as the long-term modifications of sciences or changes of the world view that are triggered by scientific understanding. Extensive preparatory works on these questions were implemented at the university; thus, the individual modules are based on institutions like postgraduate programs or thematically outlined institutes.

Details on key topics are available on the following individual subpages.

„Media and representation of knowledge“

„Media and representation of knowledge“

Spokeswoman: Prof. Dr. Stephanie Wodianka

There is no knowledge as such, knowledge is always to be understood as representative knowledge, disseminated via media: It can be a research topic only via its media presentations.

Out of this understanding, this sector of the department „Knowledge – Culture – Transformation“ aims at investigating, how the relationship between knowledge on the one side and media or representations on the other side works. This relationship is a mutual one: Knowledge is not only disseminated and characterized by media but, reversely, can also contribute to characterizing media and representation forms. One might think, for instance, of the format „TV Documentation“ about recent history here, where the understanding of historical knowledge (knowledge media, „sources“ of knowledge, meaning, order) is determined with a large distributive range, but its genesis itself derives from the recentness of certain fields of knowledge (e. g. 50 years end of war, 20 years German reunion).

Knowledge is no „subject“, but a performative, permanently re-realised form of perception of reality. Media or media systems include the pluralisation of observation and order perspectives, allow and organise complex communication about knowledge then. And only by this, perception of reality is transformed into knowledge. The orientation in science cultures does not only require „knowledge“, but also the knowledge about the cultural status of different fields of knowledge. There are privileged and marginalized fields of knowledge with media dissemination forms and representation formats may differ. How far the cultural status of media is related to the meaning and interpretation of knowledge, is one of the research interests of this sector.

There is an „esthetic of knowledge“ that shall get its profile from the focus of the sectors: „Esthetic“ in the meaning of perception and perception of reality (see above), but also in the meaning of self-reference to the own character. Here, it is not only the relation of knowledge and literature, film and art that must be considered, but also, for instance, the specific esthetics of natural science presentation forms like tables, graphs or simulations Esthetics of knowledge contribute, in its diachron and synchronous appearance to visibility, order, hierarchy and distribution issues and impact on our understanding of „objective“ or „subjective“, static or dynamic character of the known or to be known.

The relevance and distribution of knowledge is not only related to the social group or institution of the knowledge carriers, but also to its visibility, searchability and interlinking with other fields of knowledge. These are represented by media, but also preformed: The invention of book printing, the antique trivium/quatrivium and the French Encyclopidia of Elighteners mit be taken into account here as much as digital search engines, the interaction of arts or technical journals.

Libraries, museums, schools and universities as much as personalities or the language represent knowlege and different forms of knowledge. If every representation of knowledge implies a “loss”, the sector also focuses on the cultural (and scientific) productivity of “knowledge gaps”.

„Transformation of Knowledge“

„Transformation of Knowledge“

Spokesman: Prof. Dr. Hans-Jürgen von Wensierski

In a world with permanently increasing differentiation, which is dynamically changing, humanities and cultural sciences will only be able to face up to their task to develop and differentiate a scientific view of the world and conception of man when building bridges between the drifting apart life worlds, sciences systems, cultures, epochs and science disciplines. One central condition for this process and this task of humanities is the acceptance of difference, of plurality, of historicity and processuality that characterizes all manifestations of human knowledge and acting.

In front of the background of unleashed globalization, extensive economization of social lifeworlds and a performance capability of modern natural and technical sciences that seems to have no limits, the multidisciplinary consortium of humanities, cultural sciences and social sciences, thus, intensifies the requirements of a basic analysis, translation and orientation function.

These requirements to humanities can be analytically described as transformation of knowledge, knowledge stocks and knowledge cultures – a translation function with diachronic and synchronous perspective. The historical sciences and education sciences are, out of tradition and their constitution, particularly confronted with the requirements on science transformation: On the social theory and macrotheoretical level of reconstruction and self-assurance related to previous epochs, cultures and historical processes on the one side; on the level of individuals and their social systems on the other side: As question of socialisiation and education processes and of cultural tradition and continuous renewal of society within the course of generational changes.

The dynamics of social modernisation processes related to a globalized, economized and technologically upgraded information and knowledge society enforce these transformation processes of different knowledge systems. How can the logic of information knowledge systems be translated into the requirements of social lifeworlds? How can humanities models and concepts be made fertile for high-end research of genetics and biosciences or the progress of neurophysiological brain research? How can the science systems and sensual potentials of competing religions be translated and utilized for rationality and civility of secular multicultural societies in modern times? Or, from education science perspective: How can opposing processes of radical economic rationalisation of lifeworlds with simultaneous tendency towards an ageing society be connected to an education concept where education is not only understood as exploitable function for the gross national product and the generation relationship not only a synonym for economic transfer of social securing system.

The research focus „Transformation of Knowledge“ begins with time-diagnosis analysis and findings within the department „Knowledge – Culture – Transformation“. Based on the multidisciplinary research consortium of humanities, social sciences and cultural sciences in cooperation with natural, engineering and biosciences, historical, current and future-oriented research questions shall be developed and processed.

„Science and Interculturality“

„Science and Interculturality“

Spokesman: Prof. Dr. Klaus Hock

Knowledge must always be understood as culturally mediated knowledge. Accordingly, it can only be discussed in its cultural appearances. Within the course of knowledge production, again, different knowledge „cultures“ in the broader sense are generated which, for instance, can be understood as relationship between different societies as relation between different knowledge cultures.

Based on this understanding, this sector of the department „Knowledge – Culture – Transformation“ aims at investigating how the relationship of knowledge and culture works. This relationship is a mutual one: Knowledge is not only culturally disseminated and characterized, but can, in advance, also impact on cultures and intercultural relationships – and develop different cultures of knowledge in this mutual process.

Within the course of globalisation, the universal validity of European-Angoamerican science cultures got lost. Instead, an increasing acceptance of diverse patterns of perception, thinking and sentiment can be observed with political, social, economic and cultural implications that have not been sufficiently clarified so far. In addition, new, hybrid forms of exchange have developed in the contact between the cultures, outside of the dichotomy of exclusion and assimilation that have generated their very own forms of knowledge cultures. These can be named „Knowledge in cultural contact zones“ or „intercultural knowledge“, following Mary Louise Pratt and Homi Bhabha. Considering the currently assumed complexity and intellectual equivalence of indigeneous cultures, thinking traditions and science discourses of characterized by ancient times, christianity and enlightnment are increasingly under discussion.

Postcolonial concepts of knowledge, which occur in permanent exchange between former colonial metropoles of knowledge and previously dominated non-European peripheries, create a link between indigeneous and Western knowledge traditions as it has never occurred before. Out of this, globalized “hybrid” knowledge cultures occur (Chakrabarty), which, again, are completed by questioning the patriarchal primate of knowledge and supporting conventions of presentation (master narratives).

Thus, global migration processes and political transformation and modernisation processes as a result of postcolonial transformation of society and transnational community building demand to pay particular attention to basics and forms of intercultural understanding, the challenges of postcolonial knowledge concepts and globalized “hybrid” knowledge cultures. The westerm humanities and cultural sciences are more and more challenged to qualify the hegemony of the own Western-European knowledge traditions towards competing – such as indigeneous and Far Eastern - concepts and cultures to enable transcultural cooperation and consensus building.

Within the key topic „Knowledge and Interculturality“, the focus is put on drafting the theoretical, hermeneutic and historical concepts of origination, character and transformation of knowledge and „knowledge cultures“ and to advance globalization theory, postcolonial, region theory, communication theory and media theory approaches.

The following question is in the focus here: How can qualified understandings be enabled and structured without enforcing only one form of knowledge as globalization model and without advocating an arbitrary, finally random pluralisation of knowledge?

„Knowledge and Power“

„Knowledge and Power“

Spokeswoman: Prof. Dr. Martina Kumlehn

Who or what is it that determines which knowledge is considered as relevant, applicable or even „true“? In terms of everyday life realism, one would say: The reality itself is one criteron for true knowledge. Still, if knowledge aims at corresponding with reality, this congruence cannot only be read from a „reality as such“, but also from what we call reality but is only available via interpretation lines and interpretations - who or what decides upon which statements, methods and criteria are appropriate? Does the evaluation of these criteria not, converse, depend on our prior understanding of reality? And this understanding on the relevant education biography and this, again, from historical, social, religious and political factors? The insight into the uneluctable constructive dimension of any interpretation of reality („thesei“) is the complex reason why cultural framework conditions are relevant for the question about knowledge – and power. Who or what determines the criteria, regulates the discourse, has got the power or rather the „power of interpretation“?

This power determines dispositives of communication and options of acting by determining key difference and cultural order; those who violate the rules of the game or the „grammars“ are excluded: from school, from work, from the discourse. But does this also apply reversely? To think power not only as power of interpretation? A power „without interpretation“ becomes silent and looses its normative character; it does not tell (us) something anymore and becomes, exactly because of this, „power-less“.
True power, in advance can be understood (provisionally) as integral of practices, institutions and structure that have cultural orders, exclusions and orientations and, thus, are the dispositives of communication and accordingly decide upon rules of the game and grammar of accepted interpretations.

The key topic „Knowledge and Power“ investigates the complex relations and interdependences of knowledge, power and interpretations. Important questions are here:

What is Power of Interpretation? How is it generated, how does it work and how does it disappear, e.g. the power of interpretation of a religion as a comparable „belief system“? When, how and for whom are these „interpretations“ powerful? It has to be clarified here what interpretation is, how it operates with power and how claims to power go along with interpretation.

  • On a second level it is investigated how important Experiences of difference or normative dfference are when developing or reducing (claims for) power of interpretation. It is assumed here that the origin of, amongst others, „interpretation problems“ lay in differences as, e g., own/foreign or pure/impure. It hast o be clarified what functions such differenceshave and how far they are „percieved“, „experienced“ or „constructed“ and „set“.
  • Methodical guidance is provided by interpretation theory, hermeneutics, literature sciences (such as narratology, postcolonial studies) and discourse analysis, which can be expanded by system theory, political, historical, cultural, legal and communication science.